Building downtown arts and cultural districts

The arts are emerging as a potent force in the economic life of cities and rural areas nationwide.  Would you have ever thought that the gallery walks, art and design fairs, or the downtown artist studio spaces would have a proven, significant impact on your local economy? 

Two recent studies have indicated that communities who invest in the arts reap the additional benefits of jobs, economic growth, and an increased quality of life. 

In the United States, total event-related spending by nonprofit arts and culture audiences was an estimated $103.1 billion (Arts & Economic Prosperity III, Americans for the Arts).  The arts generated $849 million in revenue for Virginia businesses, provided 18,850 full- and part-time jobs, and produced $307 million in value-added income for Virginia’s workforce and entrepreneurs (The Role of the Arts in Economic Development, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices).

So what are some ways that your community can tap into this prosperous trend? 

In its 2009 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1735.  This bill grants local governments the authority to create arts and cultural districts.  Localities who establish such a district have the authority to grant tax incentives and provide certain regulatory flexibility, such as reduction of permit fees, special zoning and exemption from ordinances, to stimulate and incentivize arts and cultural activities.

Learn how you can take advantage of this enabling legislation by joining your fellow community leaders from across the state in Fredericksburg on May 15 for a leadership conference to discover the tools for Building Arts and Cultural Districts in your downtown.  The conference is intended to help move the agenda statewide to foster economic incentives supporting arts and cultural activities.  Download registration brochure online at: